Thursday, October 18

Review: Sinner - Sacrifice for Redemption [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The games I tend to enjoy and focus my energy on don’t always align to what’s most popular so that can make my perspective on titles that try to emulate some popular series I’ve never played more unique. While Dark Souls is, no doubt, a very influential and popular series it isn’t one I’ve dabbled or even had much interest in, even though I don’t mind an occasional punishingly-hard game. In the case of Sinner, it is obvious that The Souls formula was what they were aiming for, just more with a boss rush focus. Though I can’t compare it to that series what I can tell you is that the experience is pretty sloppy and lacking, though my point of comparison will instead be an indie contemporary, in this case Furi.

The essence of Sinner is that you’re dropped pretty unceremoniously, and with little preparation (the tutorial involves learning only the barest of fundamentals to kill a handful of ghosts), right into the deep end. The thing is, given the very limited breadth of your available weapons, attacks, and skills that rudimentary review pretty much sums things up. You have a larger blade that allows for a slower and more powerful attack, as well as a lighter sword and shield… though being honest for the most part it isn’t going to be much help much of the time. Your goal is to conquer 7 bosses (plus one final baddie), each representing one of the deadly sins, while also sacrificing specific attributes or supplies each time in doing so.

This is all problematic for a few reasons. First, aside from the very limited moves you have, they’re sluggish at best. Your character’s responsiveness and general rate of speed are woeful, and even when you’re not having your ass handed to you this results in pretty uninspiring combat that isn’t dynamic or exciting enough to really want to dig into it. Second, while finally getting some momentum and a boss or two can feel good, the lack of fodder along the way to hone your skills robs you of any early sense of accomplishment. You’re going to fumble through figuring out the boss patterns, or you’ll look them up, and then work to win.  Now repeat. I suppose you have some agency in choosing the order you face the bosses in but the problems are fundamentally there before you sacrifice any of it, so most of the time your impediments are only relative to how poorly you started out anyway.

Holding up a comparable title in Furi, there’s no doubt that the style of combat and everything are different but it offered up a deep and challenging set of skills that you’d need to understand. After a lengthy tutorial that had already been difficult you then faced a series of very diverse bosses that required you to show mastery of skills in different areas. By contrast, in Sinner what you start with is really all you’ll have throughout, and if anything with each success you only lose more abilities and power, working in reverse of pretty much every game you’ll ever play. You’re essentially penalized for success the further you get, and unless you’re just happy only to stick your flag in fallen enemies there’s not much acting as a driver to keep you actively interested. For me this boils down mostly to an exercise giving you all stick with no carrot, but under the auspices of that being done as a matter of design… when it simply feels incomplete and very rough around the edges more than anything else.

Score: 5

  • If your goal is to find a boss rush game that will test your skills and patience this should deliver
  • Visually the imposing bosses are pretty diverse and impressive-looking

  • The combat system is extremely limited to begin with, making its sluggish and generally clumsy controls all the more aggravating
  • With no tutorial or guidance to speak of you’re left to jump in, die, and try to piece things together as you go. This just feels sloppy and almost justified after the fact rather than by design
  • With no mobs or lower enemies to hone your skills on or grab some experience with there’s nothing but a bunch of fights where you’re outclassed as a start, and with each boss you beat your abilities continue to dwindle